Advertisement

Feminist Legal Studies

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 305–321 | Cite as

Gender, Culture and the Law: Approaches to ‘Honour Crimes’ in the UK

  • Rupa Reddy
Article

Abstract

This article examines the debate on whether to analyse ‘honour crimes’ as gender-based violence, or as cultural tradition, and the effects of either stance on protection from and prevention of these crimes. In particular, the article argues that the categorisation of honour-related violence as primarily cultural ignores its position within the wider spectrum of gender violence, and may result in a number of unfortunate side-effects, including lesser protection of the rights of women within minority communities, and the stigmatisation of those communities. At the same time it is problematic to completely dismiss any cultural aspects of violence against women, and a nuanced approach is required which carefully balances the benefits and detriments of taking cultural factors into account. The article examines the issues within the context of the legal response to cases involving honour-related violence, arguing that although the judiciary has in a number of cases inclined towards viewing ‘honour’ as primarily cultural rather than patriarchal, in some cases they have begun to take a more gender-based or ‘mature multiculturalism’ approach.

Keywords

Culture Criminal justice Ethnic minorities Forced marriage Gender violence Honour crimes Honour killing Multiculturalism Provocation Violence against women 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank Professor Lynn Welchman, Professor Werner Menski, the editors of Feminist Legal Studies and the anonymous referees for their support and helpful comments on drafts of this article. My thanks also to Professor Anne Phillips for allowing me access to the transcripts referred to in the final section.

References

  1. Abu-Odeh, Lama. 1996. Crimes of honour and the construction of gender in Arab societies. In Feminism and Islam, ed. Mai Yamani, 141–193. Reading: Ithaca Press.Google Scholar
  2. Afkhami, Mahnaz. 1999. Cultural relativism and women’s human rights. In Women and international human rights law, Vol. II: International courts, instruments and select regional issues affecting women, ed. Kelly D. Askin and Dorean M. Koenig, 479–486. New York: Transnational Publishers Inc.Google Scholar
  3. An-Na’im, Abdullahi Ahmed. 2000. Forced marriage. http://www.soas.ac.uk/honourcrimes/FMpaperAnNa’im.htm. Accessed 15 September 2008.
  4. An-Na’im, Abdullahi Ahmed. 2005. The role of ‘community discourse’ in combating ‘crimes of honour’: Preliminary assessment and prospects. In ‘Honour’: Crimes, paradigms and violence against women, ed. Lynn Welchman and Sara Hossain, 64–77. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  5. Araji, Sharon K. 2000. Crimes of honour and shame: Violence against women in non-Western and Western societies. The red feather journal of postmodern criminology, http://www.critcrim.org/redfeather/journal-pomocrim/vol-8-shaming/araji.html. Accessed 15 September 2008.
  6. Baker, Nancy V., Peter R. Gregware, and Margery A. Cassidy. 1999. Family killing fields: Honor rationales in the murder of women. Violence Against Women 5: 164–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ballard, Roger. 1994. Introduction: The emergence of Desh Pardesh. In Desh Pardesh: The south Asian presence in Britain, ed. Roger Ballard, 1–34. London: C. Hurst.Google Scholar
  8. Bashar, Nazife. 1983. Rape in England between 1550 and 1700. In Men’s power, women’s resistance: The sexual dynamics of history, ed. London Feminist History Group, 29–42. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  9. Bauer, Jan, and Anissa Helie. 2006. Documenting women’s rights violations by non-state actors: Activist strategies from Muslim communities. Canada: International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development and Women Living Under Muslim Laws.Google Scholar
  10. Bhavnani, Kum-Kum. 1993. Towards a multicultural Europe? ‘Race’, nation and identity in 1992 and beyond. Feminist Review 45: 30–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Birch, Nicholas. 2008. Was Ahmet Yildiz the victim of Turkey’s first gay honour killing? The Independent, 19 July.Google Scholar
  12. Bulmer, Martin, and John Solomos. 1998. Introduction: Re-thinking ethnic and racial studies. Ethnic and Racial Studies 21: 819–837.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bunting, Annie. 1993. Theorizing women’s cultural diversity in feminist international human rights strategies. Journal of Law and Society 20: 6–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chakravarti, Uma. 2005. From fathers to husbands: Of love, death and marriage in north India. In ‘Honour’: Crimes, paradigms and violence against women, ed. Lynn Welchman and Sara Hossain, 308–331. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  15. Choudhry, Shazia, and Jonathan Herring. 2006a. Righting domestic violence. International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family 20: 95–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Choudhry, Shazia, and Jonathan Herring. 2006b. Domestic violence and the Human Rights Act 1998: A new means of legal intervention? Public Law 2006: 752–784.Google Scholar
  17. Clark, Anna. 1983. Rape or seduction? A controversy over sexual violence in the nineteenth century. In Men’s power, women’s resistance: The sexual dynamics of history, ed. London Feminist History Group, 13–27. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  18. Clark, Anna. 1989. Whores and gossips: Sexual reputation in London 1170–1825. In Current issues in women’s history, ed. Anna Angerman, 231–248. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. Clarkson, Christopher M.V., Heather M. Keating, and Sally R. Cunningham. 2007. Clarkson and Keating criminal law: Text and materials, 6th ed. London: Sweet and Maxwell.Google Scholar
  20. Cohen, Joshua, Matthew Howard, and Martha C. Nussbaum. 1999. Introduction: Feminism, multiculturalism and human equality. In Is multiculturalism bad for women? Susan Moller Okin with respondents, ed. Joshua Cohen, Matthew Howard, and Martha C. Nussbaum, 3–5. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Coomaraswamy, Radhika. 2005a. Violence against women and ‘crimes of honour’. In ‘Honour’: Crimes, paradigms and violence against women, ed. Lynn Welchman and Sara Hossain, xi–xiv. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  22. Coomaraswamy, Radhika. 2005b. Identity within: Cultural relativism, minority rights and the empowerment of women. In Men’s laws, women’s lives, ed. Indira Jaising, 23–55. New Delhi: Women Unlimited.Google Scholar
  23. Emmerson, Ben, Andrew Ashworth, and Alison Macdonald. 2007. Human rights and criminal justice, 2nd ed. London: Sweet and Maxwell.Google Scholar
  24. Fenwick, Helen. 2007. Civil liberties and human rights, 4th ed. Abingdon: Routledge Cavendish.Google Scholar
  25. Gilmore, David D. 1987. Introduction: The shame of dishonour. In Honour and shame in the unity of the Mediterranean, ed. David D. Gilmore, 2–21. Washington, DC: American Anthropological Association.Google Scholar
  26. Goksel, Iklim. 2006. Virginity and masculinity. In Men of the global south: A reader, ed. Adam Jones, 55–58. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  27. Grattage, Karen. 2004. Cousins jailed for plotting to kill newlywed. The Guardian, 10 November.Google Scholar
  28. Harris, Ruth. 1989. Murders and madness: Medicine, law and society in the fin de siècle. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  29. Hassan, Yasmeen. 1999. Stove burning, acid throwing and honor killings. In Women and international human rights law, Vol. II: International courts, instruments and select regional issues affecting women, ed. Kelly D. Askin and Dorean M. Koenig, 587–611. New York: Transnational Publishers Inc.Google Scholar
  30. Hellgren, Zenia, and Barbara Hobson. 2006. Intercultural dialogues in the good society: The case of honor killings in Sweden. Paper presented at the Gender Equality, Cultural Diversity: European Comparisons Conference, Free University, Amsterdam, 8–9 June.Google Scholar
  31. Kandiyoti, Deniz. 1988. Bargaining with patriarchy. Gender and Society 2: 274–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lindisfarne, Nancy. 1994. Variant masculinities, variant virginities: Rethinking ‘honour and shame’. In Dislocating masculinity: Comparative ethnographies, ed. Andrea Cornwall and Nancy Lindisfarne, 82–96. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  33. Okin, Susan M. 1999. Is multiculturalism bad for women? In Is multiculturalism bad for women? Susan Moller Okin with respondents, ed. Joshua Cohen, Matthew Howard, and Martha C. Nussbaum, 7–24. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Ormerod, David. 2008. Smith and Hogan criminal law: Cases and materials, 9th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Pallister, David, and Rachel Stevenson. 2008. Plans to reform murder laws unveiled. The Guardian, 29 July.Google Scholar
  36. Patel, Pragna. 2000. Gender and racial discrimination: An urgent need to integrate an intersectional perspective to the examination and development of policies, strategies and remedies for gender and racial equality. Paper presented at the UNDAW Expert Group Meeting on the Gender-Related Aspects of Race Discrimination, Zagreb, Croatia, 21–24 November. http://www.un.org/womeneatch/daw/csw/Patel45.htm. Accessed 15 September 2008.
  37. Patel, Pragna. 2003. Shifting Terrains: Old Struggles For New? In From homebreakers to jailbreakers: Southall black sisters, ed. Rahila Gupta, 234–260. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  38. Patel, Pragna. 2008. Faith in the state? Asian women’s struggles for human rights in the UK. Feminist Legal Studies 16: 9–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Phillips, Anne. 2003. When culture means gender: Issues of cultural defence in the English courts. Modern Law Review 66: 510–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Phillips, Anne. 2007. Multiculturalism without culture. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Pollit, Katha. 1999. Whose culture? In Is multiculturalism bad for women? Susan Moller Okin with respondents, ed. Joshua Cohen, Matthew Howard, and Martha C. Nussbaum, 27–30. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Prins, Baukje, and Sawitri Saharso. 2006. Cultural diversity, gender equality: The Dutch case. Paper presented at the Gender Equality, Cultural Diversity: European Comparisons Conference, Free University, Amsterdam, 8–9 June.Google Scholar
  43. Rao, Arati. 1995. The politics of gender and culture in international human rights discourse. In Women’s rights, human rights: International feminist perspectives, ed. Julie Peters and Andrea Wolper, 167–175. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  44. Razack, Sherene. 2004. Imperilled Muslim women, dangerous Muslim men and civilised Europeans: Legal and social responses to forced marriages. Feminist Legal Studies 12: 129–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Safra Project. 2002. Identifying the difficulties experienced by Muslim lesbian, bisexual and transgender women in accessing social and legal services. http://www.safraproject.org/Reports/Safra_Project-Initial_findings–2002.pdf. Accessed 15 September 2008.
  46. Sen, Purna. 2005. ‘Crimes of honour’: Value and meaning. In ‘Honour’: Crimes, paradigms and violence against women, ed. Lynn Welchman and Sara Hossain, 42–63. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  47. Shachar, Ayelet. 2001. Multicultural jurisdictions: Cultural differences and women’s rights. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Siddiqui, Hannana. 2000. The ties that bind. Index on censorship 1: 50–53.Google Scholar
  49. Siddiqui, Hannana. 2003. ‘It was written in her kismet’: Forced marriage. In From homebreakers to jailbreakers: Southall Black Sisters, ed. Rahila Gupta, 67–91. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  50. Siddiqui, Hannana. 2005. ‘There is no ‘honour’ in domestic violence, only shame!’ Women’s struggles against ‘honour’ crimes in the UK. In ‘Honour’: Crimes, paradigms and violence against women, ed. Lynn Welchman and Sara Hossain, 263–281. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  51. Spierenburg, Peter. 1998. Men and violence: Gender, honor and rituals in modern Europe and America. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press.Google Scholar
  52. Starmer, Keir, Francesca Klug, and Ian Byrne. 2001. Blackstone’s human rights digest. London: Blackstone Press.Google Scholar
  53. Steiner, Henry J., and Philip Alston. 1996. International human rights in context: Law, politics and morals. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  54. Stone, Richard. 2006. Textbook on civil liberties and human rights, 6th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Tamir, Yael. 1999. Siding with the underdogs. In Is multiculturalism bad for women? Susan Moller Okin with respondents, ed. Joshua Cohen, Matthew Howard, and Martha C. Nussbaum, 47–52. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Touma-Sliman, Aida. 2005. Culture, national minority and the state: Working against the crime of ‘family honour’ within the Palestinian community in Israel. In ‘Honour’: Crimes, paradigms and violence against women, ed. Lynn Welchman and Sara Hossain, 181–198. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  57. Volpp, Leti. 2001. Feminism versus multiculturalism. Columbia Law Review 101: 1181–1218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Welchman, Lynn, and Sara Hossain. 2005. ‘Honour’: Rights and wrongs. In ‘Honour’: Crimes, paradigms and violence against women, ed. Lynn Welchman and Sara Hossain, 1–21. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  59. Women Against Fundamentalism, and Southall Black Sisters. 2007. Joint submission to the Commission on Integration and Cohesion. http://waf.gn.apc.org/documents/WAF_SBS_report.doc. Accessed 15 September 2008.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Law, School of Oriental and African StudiesUniversity of LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations